Even type A-pluses can defuse high-pressure situations with these dignity-saving techniques.
1. Before a job interview or an important meeting Jot down three points you want to get across. “If you start worrying, focus your mind on your main points,” says Beilock. That will help keep you in the moment and give you a cheat sheet if you start to panic.
2. Before competing in your favorite sport Sing or recite poetry to keep yourself from obsessively focusing on— and potentially screwing up— movements you know by heart, says University of Chicago psychology professor Sian Beilock. “It also helps to make your move before you have time to think,” she says. Just serve the ball. Throw the pitch. Make the shot!
3. Before taking a test Write down your fears, then list the facts that refute them, suggests Beilock. For instance, remind yourself of all the studying you’ve done. “We work with med school students who suffer from test anxiety, and doing this expressive writing technique, in addition to supportive discussion about their fears—and effective test preparation—can help them improve their scores by as much as 10 percent,” says Loren Deutsch, founder of Loren Academic Services in Winnetka, Illinois.